DVORÁK Piano Trios: Nos. 3 in f and 4 in e, “Dumky” • Trio Solisti • BRIDGE 9393 (70: 47)
What a pleasant surprise to see that this CD, by Trio Solisti, includes violinist Maria Bachmann whom I had the pleasure of interviewing a while back! Those readers who recall my interview and review of her playing know that I was particularly taken with her ability to make her instrument sing, a quality that millions of violinists aspire to but very few really achieve. ThatRead more quality immediately comes to the fore in these two outstanding piano trios by Dvorák, and the other two members of the trio, cellist Alexis Pia Gerlach and pianist Jon Klibonoff, are right there with her. By nature of both his instrument and the music Dvorák wrote for it in this trio, Klibonoff is more percussive, but, as I say, that is his role and he fills it admirably. Whether it is the actual sound she produces or the way the microphones were set up, Gerlach’s cello has an exceptionally “deep” sound, much like the great British cellist Colin Carr—at times, it almost sounds like a bass, and yes, that’s a compliment. Her tremendous depth of sound (even in pizzicato passages, which is pretty amazing in itself) adds so much to the texture of the trio and both the sound and the “impact” of the music. In short, this is truly great playing.
In this trio’s hands, Dvorák’s music emerges as a real “story” with ups and downs in tempo, dynamics, and even theme choices, but note how well he makes these divergent elements coherent in the stream of his musical thought. I can’t say with absolute certainty that Trio Solisti captures all of the Bohemian-Czech rhythms with exactly the right accent, but they certainly come close enough to satisfy me. Certainly, they capture the mercurial moods present in every movement of both trios with uncanny sympathy. Perhaps one or more of these musicians, like Dvorák himself at the time he wrote this music, have gone through periods of self-doubt and soul-searching. It certainly sounds like it.
One might be tempted to say that the even more famous “Dumky” Trio (No. 4) is more impressive, but that would not be true; rather, it is on the same high level as their performance of No. 3. And here, there is little question of whether the musicians have captured the Czech flavor of the rhythms. Since the music itself is less “Germanic” in structure, borrowing the dumka or “lament” layout of A-B-A (much like classic American popular music), Dvorák allows himself free rein in this respect, driving the music forward in typically Slavic rhythmic patterns; and, although there are clearly defined movements, the pauses between them are of so short a duration that the trio almost sounds like a continuous musical thought—or, more precisely, a series of thoughts, some related and some contrasting, but all making sense eventually as a narrative. I should point out that although this style may seem on the surface related to the mix-and-match procedure used by several of our modern composers, there are important differences, not the least of which is that one’s mind can follow Dvorák’s train of thought as the music progresses. The listener does not get lost, or mired in one spot endlessly repeating unrelated shards of music, when listening to a work like this. In its mosaic-like structure (a term I borrowed from the booklet), I would liken this piece to some of Beethoven’s late quartets.
I cannot praise this recording highly enough. Of course, there are competitors out there—ironically, even on Bridge where No. 3 is also available in good performances by the Dicterow-Golub-Kreger trio (Brdge 9242) and by Kaufman and Balsam with Marcel Civera (Bridge 9225)—not to mention the outstanding recording of all four piano trios by the Suk Trio on Supraphon 3545 (a two-CD set for a good price, only $22), but this group quite simply creates Dvorák’s sound world and allows you, the listener, to explore it with them. It’s a joint journey, and I for one was happy to be along for the ride.
Exuberant and entertainingApril 12, 2013By Ralph Graves (Hood, VA)See All My Reviews"There's a sense of fun that pervades these performances. To my ears, the trio enthusiastically enjoyed playing these works. And it's an attitude that benefits the music. Dvorak's Piano Trio No. 3 start out with some very aggressive attacks from the strings. But it's all part of the heightened sense of drama the Trio Solisti brings out in the work. In the slow and lyrical passages, the ensemble plays quite tenderly -- sometimes almost heart-breakingly so. The final movement is full of verve and spirit, and fitting climax to a rollicking good time. Dvorak celebrates his Czech heritage in the Dumky trio, and the Trio Solisi do, too. Maria Bachmann's violin sometimes sounds like a gypsy fiddle, digging into the notes to wring out every last drop of emotion. I've heard performances where the folk elements are downplayed, making the work sound more traditionally classical -- and those are valid interpretations. The Trio Solisti, however, by celebrating the Czech roots of the Dumky, make this a thoroughly enjoyable listening experience."Report Abuse